The Other Side of the Postcard

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The Other side of the Postcard

More often than not tourists come to Oahu thinking of a tropical setting in Waikiki sitting on the beach sipping a cold beverage isolated from the problems of the rest of the world. The reality is that Waikiki may not seem as pleasant as is portrayed to be in postcards and travel advertisements. The once royal surfing grounds reserved only for the highest ali’i(chiefs) has become plagued with worn down drunks splayed out on the benches in the park and card board “houses” lining the many back alleys of downtown Waikiki. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Hawaii ranks third in the nation for its ratio of homeless to residents and the situation won’t get any better unless everybody plays a part helping this cause. Tourism is Hawaii’s biggest market and as a tourist mecca, Waikiki must be paid special attention to. As a person who lives in Hawaii, when I think of Waikiki, I think of a façade of high end shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions hiding filthy streets peppered with beggars, prostitutes, and drunks. Seeing tents on the side of the road and maybe a shaggy dirty man urinating and a similarly dirty looking woman cooking something right next to him can be frightening and is certainly an eyesore for tourists. The condition of Waikiki is a shame and its Hawaii’s ugly truth not many tourists know about. Despite our state’s efforts to eradicate the homeless population from the streets and parks of Waikiki, there will never be a true “end” to homelessness unless the entire community participates in decision making and coordinating combined efforts to address the problem. Homelessness in Waikiki can be “ended” but many steps must be taken before this once beautiful place can be called free from the grips of the homeless. Homeless people weren’t always homeless.

There are so many different reasons people can end up on the streets. Most times ending up passed out in a tent with all your belongings...
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